Teaching is not an easy job. Aside from educating kids, they also need to strive to make a difference in every child.
Great teachers have the ability to inspire students in ways others can’t. They persevere and help open their students’ eyes, show them things about themselves that they couldn’t see themselves, and move past what is considered “impossible.”
Let’s take a look at some inspiring stories of great teachers who changed lives around the world.
7 Inspiring Stories of Teachers
Marilyn Gambrell: from parole officer to teacher
Marilyn had witnessed many painful things imaginable children went through as a former parole officer. She saw how distressing the children have to endure as their parents are being incarcerated. Due to this experience, she decided to change her career and life permanently.
Marilyn initiated the “healing the CHILD within” Program for Children of Incarcerated Parents at M.B. Smiley High School in Houston, Texas with her students who had been raped, sexually harassed, 0r beaten by their parents to help them heal from the trauma they faced from family members on January 2000.
She also created a long-hour class called the No More Victims program that aids to create a safer school environment and reduce substance abuse cases on campus.
Marilyn has helped hundreds of students turn their lives around with her confidence-inspiring approach.
After years of saving countless people from the brink, Marilyn’s story was featured in a Lifetime movie called “Fighting the Odds.” She continues to guide new generations towards success today.
Efren Peñaflorida: pushcart classroom for the poor
Growing up in a poor Filipino community with rampant gang activities, Efren along with his friends, started Dynamic Teen Company in 1997. Their group aims to uplift the community and educate the poor to help them divert from joining violent gangs.
Dynamic Teen Company eventually started a program called the Care of Impoverished Children wherein they push a cart filled with school supplies every weekend in the slums. Kids to teens flock the carts to learn how to read, write, and learning English.
Aside from teaching basic education, Efren and the group’s volunteers also set up a hygiene clinic to teach basic hygiene such as how to properly bathe and brush one’s teeth.
Fransiskus Faima: connecting with students amidst the pandemic
The education system had to drastically shift to online learning as the global pandemic forced many parts of the world into lockdown.
Since not all have access to the internet, a teacher from Indonesia went the extra mile to aid students without internet coverage. Fransiskus Xaverius Faima decided to travel for hours each day to set up small learning groups in a remote community. In there, he takes few students at a time where they gather around a single laptop.
For Faimu, education works best when given consistently, otherwise, learning will be disrupted and the students will suffer.
Fumi: the innovative teacher
A former English teacher, Fumi initiated a project at OECD-Tohoku School following the catastrophe that affected Japan in March 2011. The project consisted of 100 junior high and high school students who teamed up for different workshops to reveal the beauty of Tohoku to the world in an event they organized in Paris back in summer 2014.
Fumi also designed a new school that opened in 2019 in Hiroshima which focuses on project-based learning. For Fumi, she wanted to connect learning to society to make it more meaningful and help her students find their roles.
The innovative school will give more autonomy to students to encourage them to solve real-life problems within their community. Not only will it foster their academic skills, but also their social and emotional learning.
Moreover, the classroom has three different designs: open space, semi-closed, and closed. The goal for this was to make the school center of innovation where students and teachers can successfully collaborate.
Zane Powels: sending free school meals
Another inspirational teacher story amidst the pandemic is from an assistant headteacher Zane Powels. The challenge brought on by the pandemic deprived some students of their free meals which could impact their learning and well-being.
After five weeks of schools being closed in England, Powels had already delivered more than two thousand meals to students by walking door-to-door. The lunch packages contain sandwiches, fruit, and snacks. Aside from delivering their free meals, this allowed Powels to also check up on the kids about how they are holding up during the crisis.
Anne Sullivan: the miracle worker
When other teachers and people thought that it was an impossible task to teach a deaf-blind person, Anne Sullivan never gave up. Anne herself was blind in the first part of her life but partly recovered by the time she became Helen Keller’s governess in 1887.
Her breakthrough with Keller was teaching her how to spell the word “w-a-t-e-r” on Keller’s palm while placing her other hand under running water. This method became Keller’s sole communication to the outer world up to that point.
Anne remained Keller’s companion until her death in 1936. Helen Keller lived her life as a successful writer, lecturer, and activist. This would not have been possible without Anne Sullivan – the woman famously known as the “miracle worker.”
Maria Montessori: child-centered learning
Educational approaches have shifted throughout the centuries. Some emphasize a traditional, disciplinarian approach, while others stressed out more free and innovative learning.
One of the influential and still relevant educational approaches to this date is Maria Montessori’s philosophy. Her primary theory was that children essentially teach themselves. The role of the teacher is to create a good learning environment that will allow a child to develop naturally.
What is amazing about the beliefs of a Montessori school is that instead of forcing the kids to sit still and listen to lectures, she believed that they can learn from their surroundings. Eventually, her method spread across the globe and still remains an important part of the educational system.